Believe it or not, Spring semester is rapidly approaching. If you’re a new graduate student, now might be the time you start panicking. One of the most common questions we receive in the Grad School Office at this point in the year is, “What should I do now?” To answer that question, we’ve compiled a checklist that should help you simplify the process:
- Register for New Graduate Student Orientation, which takes place on Saturday, January 8, from 9:00 AM-12:00 PM in Tate Center Room 207. This orientation a Responsible Conduct of Research Seminar. More information, including a map, can be found here.
- Register for Spring Classes on MyCharleston. This is very important. Registering for the classes you need now will avoid last-minute registration headaches. If you have questions about registration, or if you can’t sign up for a class you need, contact your Program Director for assistance. If you don’t know your Cougars login for MyCharleston, see step 6 below for information on how to obtain it.
- Check your eBill on MyCharleston, and update your bank account information for direct deposits. Since payments and refunds will only be done electronically, it is vital that the College has your proper contact information and bank account numbers on file. If you would like to give any authorized users (like a parent or spouse) access to your student billing account, you can set that up on eBill as well.
- File your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) if you haven’t already done so. Even if you don’t plan on obtaining student loans from the federal government, you should file your FAFSA anyway. Scholarships that require an indication of financial need may use the information from your FAFSA, or you may qualify for an on-campus job through the Federal Work-Study program if you meet certain income requirements. You’ll never know if you don’t apply! Also check out information on assistantships, scholarships, fellowships, and grants on the Paying for Grad School section of our website.
- After your FAFSA has been processed (1-2 weeks), review and accept your financial aid awards on MyCharleston under the Financial Aid tab.
- Check your Edisto email account at least once a week for important updates. Your professors, all College offices, and all student organizations send information only to your Edisto account. If you prefer to have your Edisto email forwarded to another email address (such as Gmail, AOL, MobileMe, etc.), you can set that up by filling out this form. If you don’t know your Edisto email address, or your Cougars account username, you can find this out by logging on to CougarTrail, and selecting the “Set Your Cougars Password” option under the “College” section of the site map.
- Find a place to live. We have a blog article outlining the various regions of the Charleston area and their average rental prices. Craigslist and the College’s Off-Campus Housing website are also good resources, along with the Classified Ads section of the Post and Courier. If you need additional advice on places to live, contact our office. Our Graduate Assistants are pretty knowledgeable on this topic, and we’re happy to provide pointers! Once you have a place lined up, set up your utility connections as early as possible. Your landlord can provide more detailed information on utilities, but you should also request a New Resident Information Kit from the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce as well. It provides detailed information about relocating and lists contacts for utilities, entertainment, government services, and more.
- Obtain your Cougar Card once you arrive in Charleston. The Cougar Card serves as your official student ID. You can also load it with Cougar Cash (a debit account) for use at various locations on campus, and it serves as a bus pass, giving you free rides on any CARTA route in the Charleston metro area.
- Contact Parking Services to inquire about purchasing Parking Permits. Popular options among grad students include Evening Permits (valid after 3:00 PM) and Aquarium Garage permits. Surface lot and garage parking may also be available if you take classes during the day, but be aware that the price for these permits will be significantly higher. Visit the Parking Services Website for more information.
- Closer to the start of classes, print your schedule from MyCharleston. This ensures that you have the most up-to-date information on the time and location of your classes. You can also take this schedule to the College Bookstore to find the books you need to purchase.
These ten steps should help you simplify the process of starting Grad School. As always, if you have any questions please touch base with us. We look forward to meeting you at orientation, and we wish you the best as you begin your graduate studies!